Image source: surabaya news
Simon Santoso was written off by critics and badminton fans that his men’s singles finals match up against crowd favorite and world number 1 Lee Chong Wei at the Singapore Open Super Series 2014 is just a practice session .
Lee Chong Wei, winner of multiple Super Series titles and seems to be the clear favorite a class winning 9 out of the 10 head to head match up previously.
All was proved wrong by Simon Santoso the 28 years old lad from Indonesia, who quit the national team in January to find better fortune as an independent player and won the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold 2014 around 2 weeks ago.
Lee Chong Wei who won the India Open Super Series last week, is struggling to keep up his form consistent at the top level to meet the physical demands of playing top badminton at international level. In fact, he was even thinking about retiring from the sport at the end of year as age is catching up with the Malaysia warrior.
Simon Santoso who skipped the India Open last week and took advantage of that and walked in the court with true courage. He showed no signs of nerves and perhaps he was the only one in the packed stadium, who believed in himself of choking up a win against his much more reputable opponent and the current face of badminton Lee Chong Wei.
image source: yonex.de
Nothing was working for Lee Chong Wei in the first set and it continued to the second set. But the 3 times All England Champion and 2 times Olympic silver medalist displayed a true character of a champion and fight through adversity. Despite showing signs of frustrations and was trailing 4 -11 in the second set, the 31 years old Chong Wei picked up his pace and managed to steal 6 straight points that brought him back into the game.
With the backing of the Singapore crowd cheering his name, Lee Chong Wei displayed great dynamic styles as the world number 1, leaping everywhere for smashes and follow up at the front court. Chong Wei managed to crawled back up to 10-12 in the second set despite losing the first set.
Simon Santoso stayed focus despite showing glimpse of fatigue, dictating almost every rallies with high quality shots pushing his opponent all four corners and finishes off with superb angle of his thundering smashes. It was absolutely sensational badminton which kept the supporters and badminton fans at the edge of their seats and mouth opening moments.
The more experience Lee Chong Wei tried breaking the rhythm of his younger Indonesian opponent with Formula One pace and tempos but Simon Santoso always seems to find winning angles with his steep smashes.
The Malaysia Open GP 2014 champion, Simon Santoso persevered through the match and who was looking pale and gasping hard for air towards the end of the match but managed to find odd angles smashes that does winners.
With a string of unforced errors done by Lee Chong Wei, Simon quickly sped up to a 20-10 lead and finally won the match 21-15, 21-10 in 48 minutes. It was only his 3rd career Super Series title, where as his opponent who had won an impressive 44 Super Series titles.
Simon Santoso is finally back, struggled with several injuries which made him out of action for the last couple of years. Now he is back and probably the best form he has ever been. He came in the Singapore Open Super Series only as a qualifier but came out of the tournament as a truly deserved champion.
Both men displayed great badminton which projects the great beauty of sports where underdogs can spring up surprises against the favorites. Hopefully this type of badminton will eventually gain more of recognition of sport that it truly deserves.